Yesterday Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto announced during his speech at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal that Ubisoft Montreal will be investing $200 000.00 annually over five years to support the creation of a research chair on artificial intelligence. Named NSERC-Ubisoft Industrial Chair on Learning Representations for Immersive Video Games, the initiative will support about 30 students and researchers who will work within Ubisoft production teams to bring together video game engineers and developers’ know-how with the research methods of professors and students at Université de Montréal.
The NSERC-Ubisoft Industrial Chair on Learning Representations for Immersive Video Games
Mr. Yoshua Bengio, Chairholder and Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Operational Research at Université de Montréal, will supervise research activities alongside Mr. Yves Jacquier, Executive Director of Ubisoft Montreal’s Production services studios. These two teams are already working on projects which have proven the relevance of combining academic work with practical applications.
“Today, players expect personalized experiences, adapted to their gaming style and level of experience. The combination of academic and practical knowledge will accelerate our efforts to develop high-level, interactive, dynamic, and adaptable content, Yves Jacquier says. Players will benefit from the research results as early as 2012 on games from Ubisoft’s greatest brands.”
The research, whose main goal is to further develop learning algorithms known as deep algorithms, should result in significant advancements in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“Our teams of professors and students have been collaborating for more than two years to advance research on data treatment for the creation of learning algorithms that modify in-game experience”, Professor and Chairholder Yoshua Bengio says. “The amount of technological data to process is always increasing and becoming harder for developers to deal with. Research work will not only help the quality and adaptation of content, but also the efficiency and productivity of developers responsible for the creation of the content.”
By analyzing data on the player’s in-game behavior, it will be possible, for instance, to offer him or her a new dimension of interactivity with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). The AI will “learn” from the data and “adapt” the content of the games and the recommendations made to the player in accordance with his or her behavior.
“NSERC makes Canada a country of discoverers and innovators,” said NSERC President Dr. Suzanne Fortier. “Dr. Bengio is a world renowned leader in the field of machine learning. The second term of the Chair is focussed on applying advancements in this area to develop leading-edge technology for the video game industry. This research program will help us maintain our technological edge in the multi-billion dollar gaming industry, which holds a particularly large place in Canada’s economy, thanks in part to Ubisoft Montreal.”
The chair will focus on three activities:
* The collection of data for the creation of an improved, immersive experience customized in real-time, thanks to the generation of varied automated elements with the adaptable AI;
* The development of techniques to better equip artists and 3D animators in the creation of high-quality, immersive environments, namely the displaying of rich and flowing video content that takes into account the limitations of game consoles;
* The sharing of knowledge, experience and tools between academics and technologists, in order to stimulate creativity and innovation with the purpose of increasing the productivity of production teams.
Guy Breton, Université de Montréal Rector, says this partnership will further enhance research already conducted on campus: “By investing in the knowledge and talent development, Ubisoft and the NSERCC support our community’s unique scientific vitality and creativity.”
During his speech, Yannis Mallat said: “The creation of the chair is in line with partnerships between Ubisoft and Quebec educational institutions, for the advancement of the science behind the development of high-level interactive entertainment products. Indeed, Ubisoft hopes to help maintain Montreal’s status as a reference in video game production and R&D by actively participating in the development of a techno-creative community invested in innovative projects.”